“Maybe ‘okay’ will be our ‘always”
Adapted from Goodreads 2012 readers’ choice winning young adult fiction by John Green. The novel gains spectacular following especially in the tumblr-generation demographic (young adults, mostly fan girls perhaps, who have all the feels). It’s an ordinary love story of teenagers who has extraordinary circumstances. As the tagline on the movie poster designed by Gravilis Inc. aptly summarized: One Sick Love Story. Which caused controversies among the fans and the casts (as well as Green himself), half found it offensive while the other think it fits for various reasons. I personally like it, i think it’s a dark satire and have an teen angst all over it. But let’s move on to the movie itself shall we…
Young Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) has been living on a knife edge due to a terminal Thyroid cancer which decrease her lungs capacity. Living day to day with the aide of daily dosage Phalanxifor (which brought her from the brink of death when she was 13, aka the miracle) and an extra supply of oxygen from the tube she lugs around complete with its cannula attached to her nose. She joined a support group to make her parents happy (namely her mom, who thinks she was depressed). She found companionship through a one legged cancer survivor Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters (Ansel Elgort). They bond through books and movies, ultimately united by their love for An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (which Hazel recommends), which would brought them on an unforgettable journey.
The story did not revolve around the issue of cancer itself. Rather this is a story of normal teenagers who happen to have cancers. I found it a bit uplifting to see a film with sickness as one of its hook but did cloy itself with upsetting sentimentality towards morbidity. Instead you see these kids strives for a semblance of normalcy in their lives, an uplifting optimism not for a cure but for living day to day to its fullest potential. A quality that often mirrored by Augustus Waters character. They joke among themselves about their respective terminal illnesses not because it was not offensive, but it is something they have to live with and they need to embrace. But no, i don’t think they tried to mock cancer nor death either. The film does suffer from a triteness of formulaic rom-com, namely with the formulaic Grand Romantic gesture that somehow become sort of a weird twist because of its position in the plot point that made the 2nd half of the film become slightly anti-climatic.
I think most of the loyal fans of Green and his book would not be disappointed by the adaptation, of course things needs to be edited heavily to be experience as an audio visual films. I read the book post watching the film. The book felt very Greens (you would know what i meant if you read any other of his books or watched the videos of his and his brother, Hank, youtube channel vlogbrothers or their crashcourse). There’s that rant-y type of dialogue, with acerbic humor in it that i found hard to translate into an everyday conversation and i found rather stiff in the film. Screen writer duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (previously worked in The Spectacular Now and (500) Days of Summer) got a little lazy here, i found the 2nd half a little bit draggy and anticlimatic. I hope they would do a better job in the upcoming Green adaptation Paper Town though. Ben Richardson kept the cinematography simple, allowing the story itself to be brought to live by the strength of the characters. The musical accompaniment is great, selected soundtrack that brought the moments alive and vaguely reminds me of similar teen films (namely Perks of Being a Wallflowers and Warm Bodies). The two lead characters evidently shared a great amount of chemistry among themselves, which give this extraordinary love story its credibility. Elgort who embodies the happy go lucky Gus with ample boyish charm and extraordinary smile became a worthy match of Woodley wether in a quick-witted banter or shared a quietly romantic moments. Woodley embodies Hazel’s vulnerability and pride by showing her capacity as an actress with credibility and natural charm. It is hard to imagine another young actress that could bring this character alive.
The Fault In Our Stars have earned more than 10 folds of their modest $12 million budget. Quite an amazing achievement. Proving the strength of the fanbase and the probability of gaining more recognition for the book (and apparently resulting in another upcoming adaptation of Green book). It does get a little cheesy, but i was enjoying the emotional roller coaster nevertheless. With the two leads successfully translating the spirits of the main characters with a palpable chemistry between them. If you expect a story about morbidity of cancer, your curiosity might be misplaced. But if you can appreciate a feel good film that should encourage and inspire carpe diem, you might just find it ‘okay’ :)
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (2014)
GENRE Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR Josh Boone | PRODUCER Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen | WRITER Scott Neudstadter, Michael H. Weber | MUSIC Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott | CINEMATOGRAPHER Ben Richardson | EDITOR Robb Sullivan | STUDIO Temple Hill Entertainmen | DISTRIBUTOR 20th Century Fox | COUNTRY United States | RELEASE June 6, 2014 (US) | RUNNING TIME 125 minutes | RATING PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
STARRING Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammel, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek
DID YOU KNOW? The title itself is a variation of a quote from Act I, Scene II of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Cassius says to Brutus: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Which was mentioned in the book). Although later Peter Von Houten said to Augustus in his letter:
“Were she better, or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves“.